Singapore Through The Looking Glass

What do you see when you view the world in a mirror? Is everything the same, or does it look a little different? Aside from an obvious reversal, a change in perspective allows you to see everyday objects in a new light.

For us, it’s the same way when we visit a new city or country.

Approach it one way and everything will be pretty much as you expected, nothing too out of the ordinary, but approach it from a slightly different angle and you can be amazed by what you may have missed.

Singapore is one such city that benefits from a different approach. On the surface it may seem a little dull, but when you start to dig a little deeper, the magic is finally revealed.

If you’ve visited Singapore recently, here are some things you may have overlooked:

Underground bars

Singaporeans seem to delight in finding new places to eat and drink. As the sun goes down you’ll find them flocking to the newest bars quicker than you can say ‘open for business’. And if a bar is a little bit exclusive, that’s even better. There are several venues that don’t advertise and rely solely on word of mouth. The Library has no signage, and even requires a password in order to gain entry. It’s not hard to learn, it’s probably one of the worst kept secrets in town, but the password does help the speakeasy-style bar maintain a feeling of intimacy. Another venue taking the underground bar concept to new heights, or depths in this case, is Secret Mermaid Bar – a trendy nightspot inside an MRT station. It’s so hidden that even security guards patrolling the station at night don’t know about it. If you can’t be bothered with secret entrances and passwords, there are still plenty of great bars to be found.

Groundbreaking cuisine

Everyone knows about Singapore’s hawker centres. When you crave good food that doesn’t break the bank, they’re the perfect option. But what you may not be familiar with are the restaurants and cafes that push the culinary boundaries. Labyrinth, for one, is renowned for its experimental approach to flavour, taking traditional elements and turning them into something that satisfies all of the senses. Even at the cheaper end of the scale, casual hangouts such as the Fabulous Baker Boy, which has one of the best cake displays in town, and Baker & Cook are busy from sun up to sun down. Bincho Japanese, hidden in a non-descript building in Tiong Bahru, is a definite must try. If you want traditional, you can’t go past iconic Boon Tat Street – an open-air market selling every tasty morsel you could possibly want on a stick.

 Boutique hotels

Chain hotels are a dime a dozen these days. Many are cookie cutter hotels where you can have the same experience in every country around the world… but where is the fun in that? Travel is meant to open your mind. Singapore feels your pain, and has created some of the most daring boutique hotels around. Wanderlust Hotel, part of the Unlisted Collection, has whimsical concept guest rooms themed around ideas such as space, pop art, origami, and even typewriters. Its sister property New Majestic Hotel is a slightly restrained version of Wanderlust, but still with unique rooms created by well-known designers. Parkroyal on Pickering and The Forest by Wangz, hotels which have brought nature to the forefront of their designs, are just a two of the other properties helping Singapore stand out from the crowd.

Singapore has long had a reputation as a somewhat sterile place to visit, a financial hub with too many rules and not enough personality… but I think that’s an unfair description. If you leave preconceptions at the door, and you’re willing to get away from the usual tourist haunts, it doesn’t take long to discover Singapore is a strangely wonderful place.

When You Go 

Learn more about Singapore

Scoot Airlines operates regular flights to Singapore from the Gold Coast, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.

Written by
Chris Ashton

We're Chris Ashton and Simon Ceglinski, two Aussie travellers with a love of exploration and adventure, and the odd bit of luxury thrown in. We seek out street art, street food, and scuba diving wherever we go, and prefer the road less travelled over well-worn tourist paths.

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Written by Chris Ashton